We will survive
1 January 2021-
Yesterday, on Times Square, legendary singer Gloria Gaynor sang her cult classic "I will survive" to celebrate the resilience many of us had to demonstrate this year — and into the next. Not the first time the song is associated with that...
When it comes to anthems, a bit of luck is usually involved. And that is arguably what happened with disco’s most enduring hit, Gloria Gaynor’s “I will survive“… Starting with the fact that Gaynor actually got to sing it: former Motown producers Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris had written the song without a specific singer in sight. When they were contacted in 1978 by Gaynor’s label to work on the production of a song called “Substitute”, they figured they might as well pitch “I will survive” to the singer. Convincingly, by all accounts.
At the time, Gloria Gaynor was already an established musician, and one of Disco’s true pioneers with the release of her take on “Never Can Say Goodbye”, one of the genre’s earliest Billboard hits. That being said, she was not yet a household name, in the manner the first band who’d sung that song was — that would be The Jackson 5… So, when the encounter with Perren and Fekaris took place, it made sense for both parties to capitalize on each other. The composers would have a powerful voice to help promote their work, and Gaynor would have a strong tune to work with in order to get there.
However, “I will survive” was never meant to be the main track on that single — “Substitute” was. As initially planned, the label indeed released it with “I will survive” as a B-side, despite everyone working in the studio apparently thinking that was a questionable decision. That is when DJ’s stepped in: Studio 54’s Richie Kaczor, for one, who would only play the B side, over and over again. Radios soon followed suit… and a legend was born. Not only did “I will survive” become a #1 hit, but it became an enduring one at that, the kind people still sing along to 40+ years later: telling the tale of a woman recovering from a break-up, it managed to strike a chord in many peoples’ hearts and minds, from single women to the LGBTQ community at large, from sports fans in stadiums around the world to anyone having lived through 2020…
Here’s to hoping the song perseveres with its message of resilience and hope. Although we sure would wish for 2021 to be a smoother ride than its predecessor! Happy new year everybody!